Oct 20, 2012; Evanston, IL, USA; Nebraska Cornhuskers quarterback Taylor Martinez (3) scrambles during the fourth quarter against the Northwestern Wildcats at Ryan Field. Nebraska won 29-28. Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-US PRESSWIRE

Michigan Football: Michigan at Nebraska -- What May Happen -- Final Preview

Posted at 5:00pm — 10/26/2012

Michigan Football: Michigan at Nebraska — What May Happen — Final Preview

The theme for this week’s preview is different. Michigan will almost certainly need to play different from last Saturday, foremost on offense, to win the game. The view here is the staff is very, very aware of the underlying assumption put forth above and will play different, again, mainly on offense. The biggest similarity is continuing the mission to put people in position to cut down turnovers.

Nebraska presents a significant roadblock to Michigan’s season success this week. The Cornhusker offensive line is far better off than Michigan State’s. The offense is far more versatile. The quarterback is far more mobile. Yes, indeed, these are factors the defense must prepare for and overcome. But the offense probably must make an attempt to at least shed one layer of dead skin.

The Husker defense is not overpowering, and will not be accused of masquerading as a sprint team. But this Husker defense can rush the passer, finish sacks, and plays decent pass defense. The WOTS conclusion that Nebraska has no defense and cannot stop Michigan is off target. Nebraska will not shut Michigan’s offense off, but is perfectly capable of holding the Wolverine attack to moderate damage. It will be the offense’s job to sustain more damage against Nebraska’s defense than visa versa.

Oct 20, 2012; Evanston, IL, USA; Nebraska Cornhuskers wide receiver Kenny Bell (80) gestures as he catches the ball and runs it in for a touchdown during the second quarter against the Northwestern Wildcats at Ryan Field. Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-US PRESSWIRE

Nebraska had a horrible day defending Braxton Miller, but made a good effort last week to stop Northwestern quarterback Kain Colter. Miller took his outside game and just beat the first level of defense, planned or scramble. He did not make a ton of yardage running a slow inside read. Michigan needs to heed the pattern Miller blazed in leading Ohio State to 63 points.

Nebraska will be prepared to slow down the read series and keep leverage on Denard. The focus will be on containment through good fundamentals and keeping square to maintain leverage. Blitzes will come in selected situations, but playing to limit the big play Denard is the objective.

Nebraska is probably not too worried about stopping Toussaint. Fitz hurt Nebraska last year, but that is in the past and Nebraska had key injuries to the defensive line.

Nebraska is probably not too worried about the deep passing game of Michigan and will likely use the safeties as much a possible to defend the run. The Huskers may ignore the Michigan play-action game. Nebraska will likely be patient and give Michigan the short stuff, much like Michigan did last week against MSU.

Michigan may come out in the I formation running isoblast and some backside traps. Nebraska’s front is solid but it is doubtful the Huskers run blitzes all day into the run game. If so, Michigan is certainly prepared to stay the course and slug it out. Nebraska has solid linebackers, but Michigan State’s trio may be the best unit in the league.
Simply put, Michigan should be able to run the ball much better than last Saturday.

Michigan could put on some pressure by mixing blast and speed. The speed includes the short passing game. We will see how this plays out. Nebraska may very well go to man coverage when blitzing and Michigan needs to prepare to change at the line, regardless of who makes the change.

Nebraska’s offense is very versatile and is like a final exam in defensive preparation. Slugging it out is mission number one. Like any other good team, Nebraska will run iso from a tight set if that is all that is needed to win. Usually that has not been the case. Nebraska does a nice job with the spread, running about all that is normal from this set. The read play is followed by Nebraska having Martinez follow the read man through the hole. Nebraska has not forgotten the standard option and will run it from many sets. The Huskers even have a double option that Michigan is sure to see at least once or twice Saturday. Last year this play resulted in an easy touchdown.

Martinez has had a very good year passing. His percentage of completions and quarterback rating statistics are very impressive. His release has been quick and for the most part the passing accuracy is clearly a step up from the past. The success comes frequently off of the old-school play action pass and receivers have been scoring down the middle and down the edge from good play action. The Husker passing attack will prove to be a big challenge for Michigan’s defense, and may be the factor that tilts the game in the home team’s advantage.

Michigan has seen a lot this year and is not intimidated by hostile environs. But it is tough to play in Lincoln and the Big Red will make a big effort.

To win Michigan will need excellence in all three phases of the game, perhaps offensively more than any other phase. The Wolverines cannot sleep on the fact that Nebraska has been a strong second half team and cannot sit on a small advantage.

Should be a big time enjoyable game, regardless of the “experts” across the nation who dismiss the Big Ten as a conference that does not play high level football.

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Written by GBMWolverine Staff

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